By Jamie Brand
Utah Army National Guard
The first dance on the new, much anticipated, hardwood floor occurred on Memorial Day 1938. The newly constructed Fillmore Armory (Millard County) was a perfect way to bring a community together, built for both military training and community activities.
Armory construction began with New Deal era funding in 1937 as part of the Works Progress Administration (WPA) during the Great Depression.
The WPA was used extensively in Utah, employing more than 17,000 Utah residents at the peak of the Depression in the fall of 1936. Millard County was hit hard and early by the Great Depression.
The initial construction project employed mostly unskilled local laborers, was supervised by local citizens, and used locally purchased building materials through the bid process. Along with federal funding, the citizens of Millard County raised over $9,000 to install a hardwood floor in the armory.
“The town of Fillmore was so in need [at the time of construction], and wanted a hardwood floor they could hold dances on,” said Bart Whatcott, member of the American Legion Post 63 in Fillmore. “Fillmore City got together and mustered up the money and put in, at that time, the largest hardwood floor in Millard County.”
“This was not just an armory,” said Whatcott. “This was a place in our community where people came to share stories. This place was where I came to see Santa Claus, where I came to get my hunter’s education. We had dances and weddings here. It’s been a focal point of the community.” (Millard County Chronicle Progress, May 1, 2019)
The Fillmore Armory was primarily constructed to house artillery units within the Utah National Guard, including units of the 213th Field Artillery Battalion as well as the 222nd Field Artillery Battalion. Members of these units would train in Fillmore and go on to serve overseas during World War II and the Korean War. Most recently, Soldiers of the 222nd Field Artillery Battalion, who drilled in this armory, served in Iraq.
Eighty-one years later, on a rainy day in April 2019, the Fillmore Armory was transferred to the City of Fillmore in exchange for 50 acres near the airport for a future National Guard facility that will better meet the requirements of today’s National Guard units. Major General Jefferson Burton was presented a plaque by Fillmore City Mayor Michael Holt commemorating the 81 years the armory had been in commission.
This year on Jan. 4, 2021, the Fillmore Armory gained national recognition with a listing on the National Register of Historic Places. The National Guard worked on the listing in partnership with the City of Fillmore, Utah State Historic Preservation Office, and SWCA Environmental Consultants.
Maia London who works as the Cultural Resource Program Manager for the Utah National Guard was recently asked about the recognition, “The (Fillmore) Armory along with its rich history of serving the UTNG has received well-deserved recognition, as the building is now listed among the other districts, sites, buildings, structures and objects throughout the United States that are worthy of preservation.”
The Fillmore Armory will continue to serve the community as the City of Fillmore leases the building to Millard County for office space and rents to the community for events.
For additional information contact:
Maia London, UTNG Cultural Resource Manager
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